Class Constitution

Preface (by the course’s instructor Kalle Westerling): In today’s class, all of the students got together and collaboratively created a constitution for the class. I had adapted the exercise (heavily) from Cathy Davidson’s HASTAC article How a Class Becomes a Community: Theory, Method, Examples. I believe it is important to create a welcoming and student-centered environment in a course on public speaking, as it allows us all in the classroom to feel safer and less anxiety in relation to our speaking, but also to listen more attentively to each other as speakers. Below, I have pasted the lightly edited version of the class constitution which originally was created in this Google Doc. Feel free to provide feedback as comments in the Google Doc!

Class Constitution

COM 1010, Baruch College, Fall 2015

Article I. Our expectations of Professor Westerling are that he should:

    be on time and have his Baruch ID with him to every class so we can get into the classroom on time;
    help us write/deliver a speech successfully;
    help us get comfortable with public speaking;
    teach us the basics of public speaking;
    not stifle our creativity;
    be nurturing and encourage enthusiasm;
    help us become more confident in our ability to convey ideas;
    teach us how to be comfortable and confident while speaking;
    give us all fair grades;
    teach us how to use body language while we’re speaking;
    provide us suggestions on how to engage (different types of) audiences;
    create engaging discussion in class;
    help us when needed.

Article II. Our commitments to Professor Westerling are that we will:

    complete the readings and assigned work before coming to class;
    always try our best;
    not take advantage of the electronic privilege;
    listen to each other during speeches and class discussions;
    actually practice our speeches;
    be on time and listen as he enriches our minds;
    not be mean if someone messes up in their speeches;
    be respectful of him;
    know what we’re talking about in our speeches.

Article III. Our commitments to each other are that we will:

    come to class with a positive attitude;
    always try our best;
    not talk while others are speaking;
    not be late during to classes;
    share pens with classmates who need them;
    respect each other’s opinions;
    give helpful and constructive criticism and offer helpful feedback;
    not take critique personally, but as a way to help one grow;
    help each other;
    be a good audience;
    not make the person giving a speech feel uncomfortable;
    not distract others in the class;
    not waste people’s time;
    take accurate notes during class;
    try to not be afraid of one another;
    try to make our dreams become reality: Yesterday you said “tomorrow,” so just do it!

Article IV. Our commitments as speakers are that we will:

    write down our speeches;
    work hard on the speeches and put in both effort and focus;
    speak clearly/loudly;
    speak about topics we care about (otherwise there is a risk that audiences won’t listen);
    be sensitive when speaking about certain topics that can be sensitive to our audience;
    be receptive to our audience and know when they are bored and need a little more upbeat attitude or spontaneity;
    try to have fun, and speak with passion and excitement;
    understand what we speak about;
    research our topics thoroughly;
    try to connect with our audience.

Article V. Our commitments as listeners are that we will:

    be courteous as listeners to the speaker;
    provide the speaker with constructive criticism;
    not negatively judge other speeches but rather help and support them;
    be open to and respect other people’s opinions while feeling free to present criticism when offered to provide feedback.